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Financial Planning

Research on education standards and morals launches

Research that is aiming to determine how formalising educational and ethics requirements impact the moral development of financial advisers is calling for participants.

The Western Sydney University is canvassing financial advisers to take part in research via an online survey that takes about 20 minutes to complete. Advisers have until June 30 to participate.

Participants will receive a Principled Morality Score and an explanation at the end, which can be shared with clients and/or employers. Advisers receive their results within six to eight weeks.

Led by the university's associate dean for the school of business, Michelle Cull aims to engage with 300-500 advisers.

Cull hopes that the findings can be used by financial advisers and professional bodies to further build trust with the public.

"The results can be compared with those of other professions, financial planning students, and of the population more generally as indicated in previous studies, both within Australia and internationally," she said.

"They will also provide a benchmark which may be used to measure the longer-term impact of regulatory changes which impact financial advisers."

Further, the research will compare an earlier study of financial planners in Australia, which was undertaken prior to the legislative changes that ban commissions, require financial advisers to undertake further education, sit a national ethics exam and abide by a code of ethics to determine the impact that these changes may have had on the moral reasoning of advisers.

The financial services Royal Commission mandated the professionalisation of advisers, forcing them to undertake further study and abide by a national code of ethics. This includes sitting a compulsory ethics course and a national ethics exam administered by the soon-to-be defunct Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA).

Some researchers argue that a national exam will be insufficient in ensuring ethical behaviour, while others suggest that codes of ethics should try to achieve the highest categories of moral development. Cull said it is therefore pertinent that the moral development of financial advisers in Australia is investigated further.

The findings will be released in November.

Read more: Michelle CullRoyal CommissionUniversity of Western Sydney